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  • Date publishedThursday, August 4, 2016

Arboleda Wine Tasting with Emily Faulconer

Arboleda Wine Tasting at El Catrin

In , I had the pleasure of tasting the wines of Arboleda from Chile with winemaker Emily Faulconer. The venue was El Catrin, in the Distillery District, where after tasting through the Arboleda portfolio, we had the opportunity to try the wines with various Mexican dishes.

Viña Arboleda is a relatively young winery, founded in 1999 by Eduardo Chadwick. He is a 5th generation member of the family that founded Viña Errazuriz. The name Arboleda means "a grove of trees" and is a tribute to the more than 1,450 hectares of native forest that is preserved among its vineyards. Arboleda's philosophy is to offer elegant wines that are the purest expression of the Aconcagua Valley, from sustainable vineyards. The main pillars of this philosophy include having a deep understanding and respect of the terroir, a passionate winemaking team, and the quest for excellence.

The Aconcagua Valley is located 100 km north of Santiago and stretches from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean. The wines for Arboleda come from two properties. The coastal Chilhué Vineyard is located just 12 km from the ocean and is where the cool-climate varieties are grown - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. The cool maritime winds that blow in from the sea allow the grapes to ripen slowly, which intensifies elegance and freshness. The soils at this site are quite diverse with metamorphosed rocks (including schist) and loam-clay, which produce grapes with different characteristics depending on where it's grown. This inevitably leads to a blending of grapes from different sites.

Chilhué Vineyard
Chilhué Vineyard

Las Vertientes Vineyard
Las Vertientes Vineyard

Further inland is the Las Vertientes Vineyard, where the 40 km distance to the ocean creates a warmer climate, allowing grapes to ripen over a long growing season. The climate in this zone is Mediterranean, with cold, rainy winters and warm, dry summers and autumns. Here, red varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Cabernet Franc and Syrah are planted between 380-590 metres above sea level. Daily temperature oscillation can reach a difference of 20°C, resulting in grapes with good acidity levels at time of harvest. The soils are of coluvial origin and vary from clay piedmont to terraces with high stone content, with a wide diversity in soil structure, depth and drainage. Once again, grapes from various sites contribute to the final blend.

Winemaker Emily Faulconer, Arboleda Wines
Viña Arboleda is certified under Chile's National Code of Sustainability, which guarantees environmentally-friendly practices and social responsibility within the communities. The sustainability philosophy at Arboleda focuses on Integrated Vineyard Management and Efficient Water and Energy Use to reduce consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases.

The entire lineup of Arboleda wines consists of the 6 wines we tasted on this day, totalling about 50,000 cases, 70% of which is Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. While both the Cab Sauv and Carmenere are quite nice, I would love to see Emily create small lot wines of each and see the results, which I believe would produce an excellent wine.

We were told that pricing was $19.95 across the board, except for the Pinot Noir which was $21.95. However, as I was checking inventories on the LCBO website, it seems as though the LCBO may have negotiated slightly different prices for some of the wines.

If you're interested in purchasing any of these wines, click on the 6-digit product code of any wine below to view it on the LCBO website, then click on "check all stores" to view inventory. My quick check revealed a couple of wines that are available at the new Destination Chile LCBO located at 5100 Erin Mills Parkway. Moreover, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is scheduled to come through VINTAGES on September 3rd - stay tuned for that one. These wines can also be purchased by the case from the agent Noble Estates Wine & Spirits - please contact them directly for more information.

Thank you Ana and El Catrin for your gracious hospitality, and to Emily for providing her insight into the wines of Arboleda - it was a pleasure to meet you.

Freshly made guacamole at El CatrinBaja Cod Tacos at El Catrin

Tasting Notes:

ARBOLEDA CHARDONNAY 2015 - DO Aconcagua Coast, Chile (#208842) (XD) - $19.95
Medium+ intensity nose offering clean lime, apple, pear, stone fruits and some butter notes in a fresh package. It's medium-bodied on the juicy palate with sharp acids and pleasing aroma replays. It has a rounded mouthfeel, with good texture and some creaminess. Wild fermented. Good length on the finish. Paired really well with the fish tacos and really started to come to life as it warmed up in the glass. Score: 87 pts

Arboleda Chardonnay 2015 - DO Aconcagua Coast, Chile (87 pts)Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - DO Aconcagua Coast, Chile (86 pts)

ARBOLEDA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - DO Aconcagua Coast, Chile (#223007) - $19.95
Shows a lifted nose of kiwi, passion fruit and green aromas that also show up on the medium-bodied palate. Somewhat austere in style with a rounded mouthfeel, and lacking a bit of acidity. Good length on the finish. Was a lovely pairing with the freshly made guacamole. Score: 86 pts

ARBOLEDA PINOT NOIR 2014 - DO Aconcagua Coast, Chile (XD) - $21.95
The medium-intensity nose offers wet earth, cran-cherry, strawberry and develops some sourness with air. Appealing on the palate with aroma replays and beet root flavours on a medium-bodied frame. Acids are good, nicely balanced and juicy. Very good length on the finish. Good tannic structure should allow this wine to mature and drink well over the next 3-4 years. Really grew on me over the course of lunch. Score: 88 pts

Arboleda Pinot Noir 2014 - DO Aconcagua Coast, Chile (88 pts)Arboleda Carmenere 2014 - DO Aconcagua Valley, Chile (88+ pts)

ARBOLEDA CARMENERE 2014 - DO Aconcagua Valley, Chile (#223015) (XD) - $19.95
Contains 5% Petit Verdot, this has medium+ intensity aromas that are herbaceous with green pepper, hints of bramble, black olive, white pepper and brett adding complexity. The palate is medium-full bodied with pleasing aroma replays and juicy, mouth-watering acids. Long, earthy finish. Still a bit tight, but should be better in 1-2 years. Score: 88+ pts

ARBOLEDA SYRAH 2014 - DO Aconcagua Valley, Chile (XD) - $19.95
Closed at the moment but dark fruited tones of blackberry, black cherry, some black pepper and just a hint of jam that all appear on the full-bodied palate along with mint flavours. It has very good acids. Tannins a little drying, but have good structure and provide rich mouthfeel. Drink over the next 5-8 years. Score: 89 pts

Arboleda Syrah 2014 - DO Aconcagua Valley, Chile (89 pts)Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 - DO Aconcagua Valley, Chile (89 pts)

ARBOLEDA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - DO Aconcagua Valley, Chile (#208859) (XD) - $19.95
Medium-high intensity nose of currant, cassis, floral, and some barnyard and oak adding interest. It's full-bodied with very nice aroma replays, juicy acids and excellent length on the finish. My favourite of the afternoon. Contains 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Syrah. Score: 89 pts


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